In London today, $90 million in Russian art is going under the gavel, and the auction houses are hoping that a still robust community of Russian billionaires will come out in force to repatriate their heritage. Both Christie's and Sotheby's are holding auctions on December 1, 2 and 3, with MacDougall's, which specializes in Russian art, also selling on December 2 and 3. Bonhams is conducting one today.
There are some signs that the sales could go well. Sotheby's moved $13.8 million in Russian art at an auction a month ago, topping the $9 million presale estimate. The Russian government is saying the economy should grow next year, after falling 10 percent this year. If recovery is en route, big spending Russians may show up at this week's art auctions.
There's no shortage of Russian art coming on the market this week. In addition to the 540 lots being offered by Sotheby's, at a presale range of 14.8 million pounds to 21.2 million pounds, MacDougall's is selling 460 lots (12.5 million pounds to 17.6 million pounds), including a painting of a topless woman by Zinaida Serebriakova for between 1 million pounds and 1.5 million pounds. Christie's has 578 lots, with a presale estimate of 6.5 million pounds to 9.3 million pounds.